Sports injuries of the Ankle
25% of sports injuries are foot and ankle injuries. The ankle is the most commonly injured joint in sports. Injury to the ankle ligaments is also common among athletes. Indications for ankle arthroscopy include pain, stiffness, joint tenderness and popping, locked joints and ligament laxity.
Our orthopedic specialists at South County Orthopedic Specialists (SCOS) with offices in Irvine, Fountain Valley and Laguna Woods, offer full-service comprehensive orthopedic care for foot and ankle injuries. Dr. Arash Aminian is our Fellowship Trained Foot and Ankle specialist, an expert in ankle arthroscopy and getting athletes back on their feet and back in the game.
What is Arthroscopy?
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to examine the interior of a joint using an arthroscope, a thin fiber optic camera that allows a surgeon to see inside the joint. It magnifies and transmits images to a video screen so the surgeon can diagnose, and treat the injury and other ankle problems. The surgery requires a small incision under local or general anesthetic, in an outpatient surgery center. Athletes can often return to their sports within a few weeks.
The advantages of arthroscopy include the ability to make an accurate diagnosis, and repair most damage in the affected area. Arthroscopy benefits over open surgery include:
- small incisions
- minimal soft tissue trauma and therefore less pain
- faster recovery
- reduced scaring, and
- earlier mobilization to regain pain-free motion and joint mobility through rehabilitation and physical therapy. Research shows that early movement of the joint promotes healing and leads to better outcomes.
It is valuable for many sports injuries that affect the ankle.
The Ankle Joint
The ankle joint is made of 3 bones, two leg bones (the tibia and fibula), and one-foot bone called the talus. Then, there are ligaments that stabilize the joint on the inside and outside of the ankle.
Arthroscopy Treatment is Beneficial for
- Ankle arthritis and fusion.
- Ankle fractures, as part of surgery for the fracture and fracture reduction.
- Ankle sprains that cause serious ligament tears or for persistent pain and instability after an ankle sprain.
- Ankle instability following an ankle sprain, due to lax ligaments, can be tightened with surgery.
- Anterior ankle impingement syndrome is where the bone or soft tissue at the front of the ankle becomes inflamed. It is common in athletes, and is caused by bone spurs that can easily be removed during arthroscopy. It also results from post traumatic injuries like ankle sprains.
- Posterior ankle impingement syndrome is when the soft tissue behind the ankle becomes inflamed. Arthroscopy can remove the damaged tissue.
- Synovitis is where the lining of the ankle joint becomes inflamed. It is usually caused by injury or over use, but is also caused by arthritis. Arthroscopy can remove inflamed tissue.
- Scar tissue within the joint can lead to a painful, stiff joint. Arthroscopy can diagnose it and remove it. This procedure is called debridement.
- Damaged cartilage and bone caused by injury to the ankle including fractures and sprains.
- Loose bodies are pieces of cartilage, bone and scar tissue can break off and float inside the joint. They are painful and cause clicking and catching of the joint. Arthroscopy can identify and remove loose bodies.
- Infection is treated with antibiotics, and during arthroscopy the joint can be washed out.
- Unexplained ankle pain, arthroscopy offers diagnosis and treatment.
- Achilles tendonitis and Injury. Repetitive abuse can cause the tendon to become inflamed, inflexible and painful in the heel and lower leg. Pushing through the pain can result in tendon tears and rupture.
- Osteochondral lesions are injuries to the talus (the bottom bone in the ankle joint) and involves the ankle and the cartilage. Bone cysts can develop. This injury is due to repeated trauma. Most of these lesions occur after ankle joint trauma including ankle sprains. Treatment will depend on the location and severity of the lesions.
Ankle arthroscopy is increasingly utilized for disorders previously limited to management and open surgery. It produces uniformly good results with few complications and offers good to excellent results in a majority of patients.
At South County Orthopedic Specialists (SCOS), Dr. Arash Aminian will assess your foot or ankle injury by taking a history, performing a physical exam and obtaining any required imaging, such as an x-ray or MRI. Dr. Aminian performs ankle arthroscopy routinely on patients who desire a quick return to their sport or activities, and will thoroughly discuss your nonsurgical and surgical options tailored to each patient’s specific needs.
Foot & Ankle Specialists
Arash Aminian, MD
Dr. Arash Aminian specializes in the care and treatment of foot and ankle disorders at South County Orthopaedic Specialists. Read Dr. Aminian’s biography.